State Licensing of Personal Trainers
UPDATE - December 2008

State Download
New Jersey Bill, 2008
Maryland House Bill, 2008
Georgia Senate Bill, 2008
Note: NBFE references are highlighted in yellow

Recently, the state of New Jersey proposed legislation to license personal trainers. The bill includes use of the National Board of Fitness Examiner's (NBFE) Personal Fitness Trainer examination. New Jersey is one of a growing number of states that is considering licensing for personal fitness trainers in the past couple of years. While the NBFE retains a neutral position on licensing, we applaud the fact that New Jersey and other states recognize the importance of utilizing a National Board examination rather than developing one of possibly 50 different state board exams.

A Brief History Of The NBFE

In late 2003, the NBFE was founded with an invitation to virtually every facet of the fitness industry to participate in the creation of series of industry standards. In early 2004, board members of AFAA, IHRSA, ACSM, AFPA, NSCA, NASM, IDEA, ACE, and dozens of executives or representatives from virtually every other certification organization in the US met in Las Vegas. Each attendee was invited to participate in the development of a National Board of Fitness, adopt standards of practice and create a series of examinations based on these standards. This model was derived from dozens of other professions, specifically in Medicine and allied health. This discussion included the probability that state licensing could occur, primarily because there were (and still are) no regulations or requirements to become a personal trainer.

The NBFE openly presented objective information supporting its position why it was in the best interest of personal trainers to have a nationally standardized written and practical exam in place, rather than ending up with 50 different state board exams.

It was the first of many industry meetings, conferences and calls that were held in 2004 over the course of nearly one year that openly discussed the current the lack of regulations within the profession, pending legislative proposals and the probability of state licensure. Many organizations agreed and participated. Some sat back, waited and watched.

Hundreds of personal trainers from around the United States with a variety of academic degrees who held not one, but multiple valid certifications from virtually every personal training certifying organization in the country including ACSM, AFAA, ACE, AFPA, ISSA, NSCA, NFPT, NCSF, NASM, WITS to name a few, offered their overwhelming support. It was from that diversified, unbiased group that the first representatives of the personal training profession, who eventually became the first NBFE Fellows was culled. This was the first time in the history of the fitness profession that an all inclusive group of subject matter experts came together with one common goal, to develop a standardized National Board Examination.

Unlike any other organization in the fitness industry, the NBFE was also founded to support the best interests of personal fitness professionals based on objective, unbiased industry analysis. As a non profit organization, the NBFE will continue to provide the results of its independent surveys to the public, fitness professionals, and medical / allied health professionals as they become available.

The NBFE feels strongly that if states pass laws that require licensure of personal trainers, based on the results of industry surveys, it is in their best interest to have one nationally standardized examination process in lieu of 50 different state board exams. This model has proven successful in many allied heath professions and allows trainers to move from state to state without the stress and financial burden associated with 50 different state board examinations or different requirements for their education or continuing education.

While we can't control which states will require licensing, we do support using the National Board examination process as a terminal licensure exam should states elect to license personal trainers.

A single national board examination is much less expensive for the state proposing licensure. In addition, the NBFE Registry is in place and stands ready to serve as a single national source that can be used by the state, the public, employers or medical and health professionals to validate the status of fitness professionals. As for the trainers, the financial burden and inconvenience of taking different state board exams, not to mention the possibility that the exams could be developed by people outside the profession, support the need for utilizing the National Board process.

As with most medical and allied health professions, standardized national board examinations helps assure the public as well as medical professionals that an independent examination process is in place for personal trainers, which in turn can help legitimize the profession. At a time when the services of personal trainers is needed more than ever, physicians, chiropractors and allied health professionals should feel confident referring to competent, qualified personal trainers.

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